The backdrop of The Dee Sanction is replete with visions, which drive both events and adventures in the progress of the setting. Doctor Dee himself used mathematics and astrology to chart the potentials and divine the future. However, his prognostications didn’t truly come into there own until he paired up with Edward Kelley in the 1580s, questing to understand the language of angels.
I like the use of scrying as a medium for inciting adventure. Exposition with a touch of supernatural uncertainty. Any study of Dee and Kelley’s search for knowledge shows the complexity of dealing with angels (yes, I’m assuming that it was all real here and not an elaborate hoax by one or both parties). Often, they recorded conversations only to discover later they had been communing with malevolent entities. Other times, they created elaborate ritual furniture only to have later communications highlight inaccuracies that required reworking, which they could ill-afford.
Visions provided Dee and Kelley with hope and the promise of things to come, but not without wiggle room for doubt or the sense that they were seeing one of many possibilities (long before any theories of infinite universes might have eased their expectations).
Admittedly, you don’t want to be sending characters on wild goose chases all the time—that would be tiring and quickly lose its appeal. However, there’s something to be said for specific vagueries. Lost in Translation—the adventure that will come in the core book and which I have been running at events over the last month or so—starts with a simple request from Dee for his agents to seek out a relic. Yet, no specifics really exist and the mechanism that guides them—one of Kelley’s eyelashes—seems at odds with the importance of the task at hand.
It isn’t the only way that past adventures have started; The Gongscourer’s Baby starts with news from Dee himself about events in London, while Window of the Soul starts in the midst of drunken revelry in Southwark. However, I want the game to emulate Dee’s own progression in relation to Queen and Court, such that adventures set in the 1580s are more likely than not to be driven by Kelley’s visions from the shewstone.
To this end, I envision that the game will include a few random tables to generate nuggets, hints and vague insights to include in your adventures. Some of these might pay off, others not—in some measure, I feel these might well tie into the way Fortune works in The Dee Sanction, which sets it apart from the base Utility system. A little like a flashback, tying some facet of a vision into current events provides sufficient foresight to allow a re-roll or to support a slight retooling of outcomes.
Every day during August, I’ll be writing something new on The Dee Sanction and aim to connect the word prompt of the day with the development of the game. Check out the concept, the list and the graphics over at AUTOCRATIK.